Top econ­o­mist lauds China’s en­gage­ment

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - 19th CPC National Congress - By CECILY LIU in Lon­don cecily.liu@mail.chi­nadai­

China is play­ing an im­por­tant role on the world stage by championing big ideas, in­clud­ing the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank, said Erik Ber­glof, di­rec­tor of the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics’ In­sti­tute of Global Af­fairs.

Such ini­tia­tives lead to “sin­cere en­gage­ment with parts of the world that have not seen so much in­vest­ment”, said Ber­glof, who has also worked as chief econ­o­mist and spe­cial ad­viser to the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and De­vel­op­ment.

Ber­glof was speak­ing ahead of the 19th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China, which sets the strate­gic di­rec- tion for the coun­try and se­lects its lead­ers.

He said he hopes China’s lead­ers will reaf­firm the coun­try’s will­ing­ness to con­tinue with re­forms, im­prov­ing so­cial poli­cies and ef­forts to en­gage with the world “and be an im­por­tant player in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, which will be needed”.

He said he has wit­nessed China’s trans­for­ma­tion in re­cent decades, as it has be­come in­creas­ingly vo­cal on in­ter­na­tional is­sues, and as the coun­try’s econ­omy has be­come stronger. He de­scribes China as “dy­namic, for­ward­look­ing, and con­fi­dent”.

“I think China has been asked to step into the world a bit ear­lier than it had wanted, but it shows clear lead­er­ship,” he said, adding that Bei­jing will col­lab­o­rate with other coun­tries to achieve as­pi­ra­tions, such as the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

One fac­tor for China’s lead­er­ship is the size of the na­tion’s econ­omy.

“What China does is im­por­tant for the world, and what China does, even do­mes­ti­cally, has im­pli­ca­tions for the world,” he said.

Ber­glof ap­plauded China’s do­mes­tic re­forms car­ried out dur­ing the past five years, high­light­ing so­cial re­form, health­care re­form and ad­dress­ing ur­ban con­ges­tion as key achieve­ments. How­ever, he cau­tioned that the na­tion’s growth faces chal­lenges, such as find­ing ways to grow while also look­ing af­ter the en­vi­ron­ment.

Mean­while, he ap­plauded Chi­nese fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions’ in­creas­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial sys­tem, and the es­tab­lish­ment of the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank.

“The AIIB is in­no­va­tive in the way it came about,” he said. “It is an ini­tia­tive by an emerg­ing econ­omy, and it was built from a lot of learn­ing from other in­sti­tu­tions. It has at­tracted plenty of staff from other in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions quickly.”

Ber­glof is pos­i­tive about China’s con­tin­ued growth, ex­plain­ing that he be­lieves con­ti­nu­ity to be a main char­ac­ter­is­tic of China’s de­vel­op­ment, de­spite the chal­lenges of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion and the eco­nomic struc­tural shift.

“What I see is a de­ter­mi­na­tion and will­ing­ness to solve these chal­lenges and do it in a sys­tem­atic way, and train­ing peo­ple and us­ing ev­i­dence to for­mu­late pol­icy. (This ap­proach) is not new, but per­fected by the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers,” he said.

di­rec­tor of the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics’ In­sti­tute of Global Af­fairs

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